Iliotibial Band Friction Syndrome, or IT Band Syndrome, is a common problem that can cause pain in the outside of the thigh or knee. This occurs when the tensor fascia latae (TFL) muscle at the hip becomes overactive. The TFL connects into the non-contractile IT band which attaches just below the knee and when it is tight or overactive the tension can translate and cause friction and irritation of the tissues in this area. Correcting this problem involves strengthening and stabilizing of the hip abductors, most notably the gluteus medius (GM).
IT Band Syndrome is common in runners but can present in many activities. It can occur with simply walking or getting up and down out of a chair. When taking a step, doing a squat or simply getting up from sitting the hip abductors keep the knee from diving inward, which is a vulnerable position for the ligaments of the knee. The TFL abducts the hip but also rotates it inward and flexes it forward. The GM abducts and rotates out and can become underactive or weak. It is usually found to be weak and underactive in those with IT Band Syndrome. Strengthening the GM helps to reduce stress and strain on the TFL, thus reducing friction from the IT band. Stretching and foam rolling the IT band or the TFL may feel helpful but it will not address the root of the problem.
The exercises in the above video will help to strengthen and stabilize the hip by strengthening the gluteus medius. These exercises should not cause any pain but if they do you should discontinue them and see your provider to see if there is something else going on with your knee or hip. These exercises a great first step but if you are an athlete or do moderate activity, like running, several times a week then more standing and activity-specific exercises and some muscle and manual therapy by your provider may be needed to help you get back to moving well, often and pain-free.
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